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Montreal-based artist Karine Giboulo opens the door to her home and invites you to enter a world at once familiar and uncanny. More than 500 miniature polymer clay figures engaged in daily activities animate the house. Yet, we quickly discover that the theatre of their lives is much greater and more complex than it seems at first glance.
On the kitchen countertop, a line of people, masked and socially distanced, await access to a food bank. In the bedroom, the drawer of a dresser opens to reveal rows of masked factory workers hunched over industrial sewing machines. In the laundry room, a forgotten iron causes a forest fire, forcing animals to flee their natural habitat.
Housewarming is Giboulo’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020, and the waves of confinement and isolation that followed. It is a sculpted documentary of individual and collective experiences grounded in current events. With the pandemic as a constant presence, the colourful dioramas furnishing each room prompt reflection about the challenges we face as a society. Their stories amplify themes pertaining to connectedness and isolation, aging and care, labour and consumerism, the climate crisis, food insecurity, and housing instability. This intimate journey also unveils a personal narrative of self-acceptance and identity and transports us to the world of childhood, a critical period in the development of consciousness about the world.
The house is, above all, a framework for considering our place in the world and the connections that bind us. By transforming furniture, appliances, and other everyday objects into vehicles for storytelling, Giboulo invites us to contemplate how each domestic dwelling contains the world and its history, and how we appropriate the larger world through the material goods that fill our spaces. The home thus emerges as a portrait—at once a reflection and extension of the self.
Always direct and incisive, Giboulo’s microcosms articulate unexpected juxtapositions—playful and sad, realistic and absurd, poetic and political—prompting a range of emotions from delight to profound empathy. The more closely we look, the more we may recognize ourselves in the scenarios and their protagonists. Certainly, we will see our own homes differently.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Karine Giboulo is a self-taught artist based in Montreal. She has presented more than thirty solo exhibitions, including at the McMichael Canadian Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario and the Musées de la Civilisation du Québec. Her work has been featured in major group exhibitions such as Errance sans retour at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec in 2021-2022 and Joueuses / joueurs, énigmes et jeux d’esprit en art contemporain at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal in 2019. Her work can be found in many public and private collections including the Musée National des Beaux-Arts de Québec, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and the Royal Bank of Canada.
Mary Janigan & Tom Kierans
David Staines & Noreen Taylor
111 Queen's Park
Canada, M5S 2C7